Whether it's to encourage the children to engage in educational conversation at the dinner table, ease a strained family gathering or enliven a social get-together, generating stimulating table talk is a useful skill. Games, stories and provocative questions can provide creative table talk for kids and adults alike.
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Stump the Parent
Play "Stump the Parent." Let each child, in turn, choose a subject that interests them. The parent will ask a question about that subject. If the child answers the question, he receives a point. At the end of the meal, the child with the most points chooses the next day's menu (or dessert). In addition to the game's educational value, this activity can encourage family mealtimes, which, University of Minnesota and Harvard researchers have noted, allows children to develop healthy and nutritionally sound eating habits.
Begin a discussion about politics. Political discussions engage many groups, allowing conversations to flow for hours. Political discussions don't work well in every situation or with every group, so the host should consider the venue and the make-up of the guests who will sit together before embarking on political table talk.
Ask guests to recall their first memory, an incident that had a big impact on their lives or a memory of someone who played an important part in their lives. Start a "Remember When ..." thread (depending on the age of the participants).
Ask guests if they've ever done any genealogy research. Quite a number of people have done some kind of research into the family tree, even if only preliminary in nature, and they will enjoy talking about the search, both what they have already learnt and what they intend to pursue in the future. In addition, many people have stories about finding long-lost relatives or about unusual relatives, and they will share such stories with a little encouragement.
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